I met Kendra Jones Morris a few months ago through Propeller (formerly, Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans). Kendra runs Rural Revolution, a social enterprise that creates job opportunities locally for sales ambassadors who in turn sell beautiful jewelry by female artisans from around the world. Kendra’s professional and personal background is so interesting that I had to find out how her life experiences have influenced her style. We chatted about how style evolves with age, her closet confessions, and why you shouldn’t wait for a special occasion to wear something you love.
What are you wearing today?
This [top] I got from Hattie Sparks, which I love. It’s a see-through white button-down. White pants from the Gap. And the shoes I wear with this are black and gold. I’m really into white, black and gold.
Are those your signature colors?
No, but with children, I’m really desperately trying to find a uniform, so that I can everyday have everything go together.
Tell me about three of your favorite items in your closet right now.
 I really like this skirt, because it’s so flowy.  Trenches because they cover up everything, and it doesn’t matter how sloppy I am underneath.  [This jumper] is one of my favorite things that I’ve never even worn. Basically staples. I am constantly looking for staples.
Is that part of being a mom?
Absolutely. In my 20s, I had my closet completely organized by color, texture, and lots of different items. It was fun. But now, I’m constantly giving away all of my clothes, because I’ve got to zero in on and find a style that works. I’m looking for a uniform. White, ivory, grey, and black. You can do all white in New Orleans and be very appropriate.
How would you describe your style in general?
I feel like I’m the messiest I’ve ever been in my life, but right now with my age and position in life, I’m looking for my new norm. I’m looking for my style.
If someone saw your closet, what might they say or learn about you?
I thought she had more! I get a lot of compliments on my clothes, but I don’t really have that much in my closet.
Once something ends up in your closet, how long does it stay there?
Sometimes it hasn’t even stayed two months, if I don’t think it’s going to work. If I like it, it can stay for years.
What are those pieces that have stayed?
Classic denim jeans. The ones you find in vintage stores. I can never seem to part with vintage “Made in America” jeans.
What is your closet confession? Do you have any secrets in your closet?
I think holding onto clothes when they’ve started to get tattered. It’s something that you think nobody will notice [laughs]… But sometimes people notice. That’s a closet secret.
Is it because it’s a piece that you just can’t part with?
Yeah, because if it’s a piece you love and you can’t find something to replace it, then you think “I’ve gotta hold onto this until I can get it replaced.” And then I may or may not wear it, but I think that I can’t let it go until I get it replaced.
Have your travels and the places you’ve lived influenced your style?
Definitely. I never had the backpacker look, but I love the European [look] – it’s all very uniform. Everything is black and grey. They always look sleek. I think in America we typically go for quantity as opposed to quality. We get pleasure out of consuming as opposed to enjoying [the use of the items]. My philosophy has always been, I never know if tomorrow will come, so dress accordingly. That’s what I would think everyday: if you buy something, you have to use it, because there is no “tomorrow I’m going to be a glamorous person.” Today you’re a glamorous person.
How did you develop that philosophy? Did anyone influence you?
My mom always looked really sexy and I was from a farm town of 1500 [people]. While all the other moms wore fuzzy sweaters, my mom always looked like she was going to the office, even though she wasn’t. She always wore high heels… She was just a really attractive woman. She was from a small Missouri town too, but she was a Peace Corps volunteer. She and my dad had traveled and that was when people didn’t really travel. She always looked glamorous.
Has that influenced you a lot?
Definitely. And with my daughter, I want to look presentable in front of her, as often as I can, because that influences her. I think it’s ok for children to get sloppy and experiment, but I think there is something about having your mother look like she’s intact. So I’m always trying to make sure that at least I look like I’m together.
So it’s more than just clothes. It’s really about self-respect?
Does your daughter Gisele like to play dress up? Are you seeing her develop her own style?
Yes. She is her own person. She’s always the princess.
You’re collaborating with Hattie Sparks in New Orleans for Rural Revolution. Can you tell me about that?
The trunk show will include leather clutches that are handmade by female artisans in Indonesia. We work with female artisans throughout the world and then we give back in their name and in our name to their communities. In Indonesia, it’s helping an orphanage that is right in the girls’ neighborhood. In New Orleans, it’s going back to the Redeemer Presbyterian Church that has helped to rebuild 500 homes. So every piece has a story, and we think Hattie Sparks is a great place to showcase affordable high-end quality goods that tell a story.